Homebuilders getting creative by offering perks to sell houses

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The economy is making it more difficult for homebuilders to attract buyers, but that doesn’t mean they have given up.

“This is what I wanted to do and I could see a huge potential not only for the lifestyle, but the value of the property,” David Buck said.

Buck and his wife Marsha are living at Encanterra, a trilogy country club in San Tan Valley, Arizona. It is a master-planned community developed by Shea Homes.

“I liked the idea of a green lifestyle,” Marsha Buck says. “I liked the idea having solar and I liked the idea of off-setting those electricity bills.”

The green movement was just one amenity the Buck's liked about their new community. The room views, an outside patio and something called the “Smart Space” were also draws.

“We have our security, computers and modems,” Marsha said. “It's set-up as an office for us.”

But the house wasn't the only investing the couple wanted to do at Encanterra. “I liked moving into a new community because people are very anxious to develop relationships,” Marsha continues.

“Their investing in a lifestyle and the home almost becomes secondary in the equation,” Hal Looney says.

Looney is the area president of Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities. The company is trying to attract buyers in a bad market with its emphasis on lifestyle. The green movement and its clubhouse [La Casa] for the community to gather are two of the selling points.

“All of us have had a challenge in this market and Shea is not immune to that,” Looney explains. “I think with our history it's giving us the ability to sustain the weather and these types of situations.”

“Master-planned communities overall in the market, I believe have about a 50 percent share of the market.” Mike Trailor says. “So I think what you get with them, that you don't in the general housing market, is a sense of community and sense of place.”

Trailor is the Arizona Department of Housing Director. He says no matter what you buy in this market, whether it is a foreclosure or a brand new home, being able to keep up the payments is key.

“Do not buy beyond your means that would be the best advice I could give you,” Trailor says. “And then you have to look at what your lifestyle issues are and the part of town you want to live in and where the jobs are.”

As for the Buck’s, they bought into the "lifestyle" being touted in their master-planned community.

“Just don't cross it off for something you can't swing because you can make this work for you,” David Buck says. “All you do is plan.”